Illustration of DNA methylation.
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‘Polygenic risk scores’ for autism, explained

These scores — composite measures of a person’s autism-linked common genetic variants — cannot predict an autism diagnosis but could help researchers better understand the condition’s underlying biology.

By Giorgia Guglielmi
23 May 2023 | 4 min read
Conceptual illustration of a door leading from one area of the brain to another area of the brain.
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Autism’s genetic heterogeneity evident in brain connectivity patterns

The results highlight the importance of subgrouping study participants based on their underlying genetics, the researchers say.

By Angie Voyles Askham
27 September 2022 | 5 min read
An abstract "funding mechanism" featuring dollar bills alongside tubes, beakers and wires
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New program offers $35K grants to study ‘profound autism’

People who have ‘profound autism’ — those with severe intellectual disability, limited communication abilities or both — tend to be excluded from research. The Autism Science Foundation seeks to change that.

By Peter Hess
18 July 2022 | 5 min read
Child with colorful tactile puzzle and clinician or therapist.
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Autism without intellectual impairments more common than previously reported

Almost 60 percent of autistic people may have an average or above-average intelligence quotient, according to a new longitudinal study.

By Jonathan Moens
1 December 2021 | 2 min read
Child makes a row of flowers on the ground.
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Repetitive behaviors wax and wane among autistic youth

Some types of restricted and repetitive behaviors become more prevalent among autistic children and teenagers over time, depending on their age and intellectual ability, whereas others decrease.

By Peter Hess
20 September 2021 | 2 min read
Illustration shows yellow landscape with blue sections and a lot of trains on paths with kids on the trains, going different directions.
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Mapping the futures of autistic children

Researchers can roughly project what autistic children's lives will look like years down the road. But how good is their crystal ball — and what are its benefits?

By Elizabeth Svoboda
14 July 2021 | 18 min read
researchers analyzing a big change in a DNA helix

Evolutionary approach reveals impact of missense variants in autism

Cross-species comparisons can help make sense of subtle genetic variants in people with autism and identify hundreds of new genes that may contribute to the condition.

By Chloe Williams
7 July 2021 | 5 min read
Child in an MEG machine
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Making neuroimaging accessible for more autistic children

A new protocol aims to help researchers include more autistic people — especially those who are minimally verbal or have intellectual disability — in imaging studies.

By Laura Dattaro
6 April 2021 | 8 min read
Brain made of DNA strands on a background of molecule shapes
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There are no autism-specific genes, just brain genes

There is not yet a single example of a gene that, when mutated, increases the likelihood of autism but not of other neurodevelopmental conditions, including intellectual disability.

By David Ledbetter, Scott Myers
23 March 2021 | 5 min read
Heatmap plot showing how each genetic variant plus autism group differed.
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Copy number variations linked to autism have diverse but overlapping effects

People with mutations in distant chromosomal regions often share a range of autism traits, even if they do not meet the diagnostic threshold for autism.

By Angie Voyles Askham
1 February 2021 | 4 min read

Explore more from The Transmitter

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How to teach this paper: ‘Behavioral time scale synaptic plasticity underlies CA1 place fields,’ by Bittner and Milstein et al. (2017)

Katie Bittner, Aaron Milstein and their colleagues found that cellular learning can happen over longer timescales than Hebb’s rule predicts. How long should we wait to teach students about this phenomenon?

By Ashley Juavinett
24 June 2024 | 11 min read
Portrait of Kaspar Podgorski standing in his lab wearing a helmet with a climbing rope over his shoulder.

Climbing to new heights: Q&A with Kaspar Podgorski

The optical physiologist tracks neural computations inside the lab and scales sheer rock faces outside—even after a life-changing fall.

By Elissa Welle
21 June 2024 | 8 min read
Research illustration groups genes by their effects on brain cell types.

Giant analysis reveals how autism-linked genes affect brain cell types

Genes that predispose people to autism account for a large portion of the neuronal and glial cell changes seen in those with the condition.

By Charles Q. Choi
20 June 2024 | 5 min read